Napster U.K. is whittling-down its executive team as part of a cost-saving decision to centralize its European sales, marketing and management in Frankfurt, Germany.

As a result of the strategy, Napster U.K.'s VP and GM Leanne Sharman will leave the company, with effect from Wednesday (Feb. 28). Sharman joined the digital music company in January 2004 as VP of business development, its first European executive appointment. Prior to that, she was VP of sales and marketing at now-defunct online music operation Europe.

While Sharman exits, Thorsten Schliesche has been promoted to the new role of VP sales and marketing Europe. Schliesche is also the GM of Napster's Frankfurt-based German sales office. He was unveiled during the Cannes music trade fair in January 2005 as GM and VP of Napster Germany, ahead of the company's roll-out into continental Europe.

Going forward, Schliesche will be responsible for overseeing centralized sales and marketing activities for the entire European region, including Napster's U.K. business.

Moreover, Napster U.K. has elevated music manager Ian Greaves to head of programming. His promotion comes just days after Jeff Smith, Napster's director of U.K. and international programming, joined BBC Radio 2 as its head of music.

"This restructure is the right thing for Napster in Europe at this time," comments Sharman in a statement. "It's been a privilege to establish Napster in the U.K. and I'm proud to be leaving such solid foundations for Napster. I wish Napster every success for the future."

In a statement, Napster president Brad Duea explains that the shift to centralize the European structure "makes sense" for the company. "Consolidating European sales and marketing under a single management structure will enable us to move European operations into profitability at a faster pace and manage multiple country opportunities more efficiently," he says "including managing our European roll-out of Napster Mobile with Ericsson's sales and marketing team."

The resized U.K. office will support local music programming and marketing activities, according to Napster in a statement.